Marita McNichol was awarded with the American flag in honor of her father who died after serving in World War II.
Francis P. McNichol, who served in the Navy during World War II, died 33 years ago and was overlooked for receiving an American flag at his funeral. During a military funeral, members who died while in service or veterans of any branch of the military, should have the American flag draped over the casket as a symbol of remembrance. The flag is then presented to the next of kin by an honor guard representing one of the five branches of the military.
“I’ve been waiting years to get a flag for my dad’s coffin and I didn’t feel right for him not to receive one for the years he gave to the military,” McNichol said last week at the ceremony.
Francis McNichol did not have to go to war, due to being the last of the bloodline in his family, but decided to volunteer and serve the country during a time of need for soldiers.
“He thought it was the duty to his country, he loved being in the Navy, and when he died and wasn’t recognized, it just hurt my heart,” McNichol said. “This man who worked so hard for his country, who had eight children, dropped dead at 60 and didn’t get a thing for it.”
The reason Francis McNichol was not recognized at his funeral for being in the military was likely due to the government misplacing his records while he switched ships during the war, McNichol said of her father.
“The funeral home told us that they searched and searched for his name and told me that there were so many people with the same name in the Navy at that time, and they couldn’t find his identification numbers,” McNichol said.
Even though it did not make his funeral service any less special, McNichol said it was something she thought he deserved.
McNichol decided to have her father recognized for his service after her cousin, an Iraq War veteran, died from a seizure after the war.
“I was very sad for my cousins lost. They had a beautiful ceremony for him with horns, drum taps from servicemen, and my cousin was awarded with his flag. I thought that kind of ceremony was what my father deserved,” McNichol said.
Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-172nd, was on hand to present the flag to McNichol and said it was an honor for her father to serve the country.
“It has been a long-time coming for this ceremony, but at least now Francis will be remembered by the military and future generations of his family will know what a great man he was,” Boyle said.
McNichol said because her father volunteered, he fought the risk of getting killed in the war without his name being able to live on.
“He has grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and I want them to know what he did, how he served us, and that they may learn that if pop-pop did it, than they can do it too.”
Francis McNichol died where he was born, at Saint Micheal’s Parish, in Fox Chase. Returning to Fox Chase after the War, Francis lived in there, until his death, during a speech he was giving at the parish.
“Even though his death was sad, I believe it shows the beauty of how life comes full circle,” McNichol said. “I also believe that since it is Holy Week, I feel that my life has come full circle because now I have a part of his death with me and I can always remember his service to America, with this flag.”
**This article has been corrected to reflect the incorrect identification of a man in a photograph. The man is Marita McNichol’s brother, not her husband. We apologize for the error.